The Daring Ladies of Lowell
Eager to escape life on her family’s farm, Alice Barrow moves to Lowell in 1832 and throws herself into the hard work demanded of “the mill girls.” The hours are long and the conditions are bad, but Alice soon finds a true friend in Lovey Cornell, a saucy, strong-willed girl who is outspoken about the dangers they face in the factories . . . and about Alice opening her heart to a blossoming relationship with Samuel Fiske, the handsome and sympathetic son of the mill’s owner.
But when Lovey is found dead under suspicious circumstances, a sensational trial brings the workers’ unrest to a boiling point, leaving Alice is torn between finding justice for her friend and her growing passion for the man with whom she had no business falling in love.
Praise For The Daring Ladies of Lowell…
“A suspenseful, compelling tale of courageous young women fighting for justice.” —Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker
“Alice is cast in the mold of a character created by an earlier Alcott, the passionate and spunky Jo March. A refreshingly old-fashioned heroine.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Offers up a compelling slice of both feminist and Industrial Age history.” —Christian Science Monitor
“Both inspiring and thought-provoking…. Will keep the reader captivated for hours.” —The Free-Lance Star (Fredericksburg, VA)
“Riveting. . . . In this book, and in real life, there’s no story—or change—if people don’t push the boundaries of what is acceptable, or give voice to uncomfortable truths.” —Huffington Post
“Alcott draws from dramatic events indelibly etched in history and offers a fresh perspective. . . . Alcott’s work will attract historical romance fans who will be entertained by the antics of the daring ladies who leave everything they know and embrace less-than-ideal conditions to gain their freedom.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“The carefully detailed life in the Massachusetts cotton mills gives Alcott’s latest a ring of authenticity. Add to this well-drawn characters, a sensational trial, a forbidden romance and a young woman’s struggle for independence and you have a compelling read. Alcott is a splendid storyteller who knows exactly how to capture reader attention with a perfect combination of history and romance.” —The Romantic Times
“Captures the spirit and courage of the young women who dared to work at factory jobs. Kate Alcott draws on the true story of a murdered mill girl for this captivating story of loyalty, friendship, and love—most of all, love.” —Sandra Dallas, author of Alice’s Tulips
“An engrossing narrative with a love story at its core.” —Booklist
“The Daring Ladies of Lowell are as complicated and flawed as any contemporary heroines, and they shine in this gripping 19th century tale about a small group of “factory girls” who refuse to be silenced when one of their own is murdered. . . . A nuanced gem of a novel about friendship, sacrifice, and love that will keep you turning its pages until the very end.” —Amy Brill, author of The Movement of Stars
“Will illuminate and satisfy.” —Publishers Weekly
Anchor, 9780345802569, 304pp.
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
How is the treatment of the “factory girls” different from the way women are treated in today’s work place? How is it similar?
Did the descriptions of how much work went into creating simple piece of cotton cloth surprise you?
When Alice first meets Lovey, she doesn’t quite know what to make of Lovey’s frankness and her high spirits. What was your initial reaction to Lovey? Do you think she is reckless or a woman ahead of her time?
The Daring Ladies of Lowell takes place in 1832, ten years before the landmark decision in Commonwealth v. Hunt held that workers have the right to organize and strike, and more than one hundred years until federal law was passed prohibiting child labor. Why do you think progress has been so slow in protecting working people?
Discuss Delia and Ellie’s difficult situation and the many parallels with the challenges working mothers still deal with today: a troubled marriage, battle for custody of a child, and the difficulty working women can have in securing adequate child care.
Alice and her co-workers have a grueling schedule: thirteen-hour days, ceaseless physical labor, and only one day a week off. Could you make it through a “factory girl” workweek?
Discuss the role respectability plays in the novel, and the consequences of the secrets that are kept to save reputations (as in the case of Jonathan Fiske) and to maintain the status quo (Dr. Stanhope’s knowledge of the poor conditions and health hazards at the mill).
Alice forms a bond with a Samuel’s grandmother, who stands apart from the rest of the Fiske family. What does she represent and how has her influence shaped Samuel?
What is Alice’s most admirable trait? What is her least admirable trait?
What do you think the future holds for Alice and Samuel?